Quick Reviews: 'Gretel & Hansel', 'Like A Boss' | Fantasy Horror Fable, Salma Hayek, Rose Byrne
GRETEL & HANSEL
If you are one of those people that skip the company logos in the beginning, I wouldn’t be shocked if you thought director Oz Perkins' Gretel & Hansel to be a part of A24’s catalogue. Playing with some cartoonish shot compositions nearly every time, it definitely separates itself from expectations that one might have about a retelling of this very famous tale. Certainly a bang for your buck visually but the rather dreamscape-y way the scenes play out isn’t as compelling.
I would recommend Gretel & Hansel to anyone who is a fan of cool production design that gets fully absorbed in framing of the shots. They are often built around the shapes of buildings, rooms and set designs. The use of dark and faded colours also work really well for the tone the movie is going for. Acting-wise a good thing is that there’s no sense of half-trying even with limited shooting times with kids, those being Sophie Lillis as Gretel and Samuel Leakey as Hansel. They do alright however Alice Krige as The Witch is fantastic, she is straight up unnerving to watch constantly.
There’s quite a bit of narration weaving in and out which often leads us more than things happening on the screen which is unfortunate. It neither commits to being an artistic part and neither is it used as an introduction like in tales of classic literature. That combined with weirdly timed cuts during scenes and when ending them makes the storytelling a bit of a bore honestly. Taking in the fact that it’s an PG-13 movie, the zero mystery about everything is a letdown as it’s usually reserved for young kids’ entertainment. One smaller note is about the title since Hansel isn’t much of a character at all, this is mostly about Gretel so mentioning Hansel always like he isn’t a part of anything, seems like a misstep.
Smileys: Production design, Alice Krige
Frowneys: Editing, narration, characterisation
”There’s an ominous drug trip in this kids tale? How isn’t this A24?”
LIKE A BOSS
Ah, January comedies, you either love or loathe to see 'em. From director Miguel Arteta and straight out of film studio’s computer programmable script writer comes Like A Boss, a movie that is polished so many times that it becomes indistinguishable from everything you’ve seen in your lifetime (take that double entendre as you will). There are just caricatures of characters, the least inoffensive jokes possible and no proper hardship to result in so many verbal fights.
You know you’re in for it when the only thing shining are the supporting cast. Billy Porter (as Barrett) and Jennifer Coolidge (Sydney) manage to hit their comedic marks at least sometimes, notably Porter with some good timing and physicality in a cafe scene which doesn’t fit the story but stands on its own well. Coolidge delivers a couple of dings and you’d wish that you could say that about the main trio on screen: Tiffany Haddish (Mia), Rose Byrne (Mel) and Salma Hayek (Claire). Their characters are an absolute travesty for laugh providing since their dialogue is dull, jokes are just kind of pop culture references and depth is nowhere to be found.
This movie is especially a bad look for Haddish as her main motivation is just to yell lines (going for the loud=funny hahas). At some point there should be a moment when the director notices it and talks to the actors. It seems though that it never happened once. Something also not helpful is the editing of it all together, the cast’s expressions and positions alter so much from shot to shot that it’s a genuine distraction. All the confrontation in the script is vague and fake, it’s so heightened and goes against both human and movie logic. There’s so much make-up that we never see anyone truly, just a mixture of colours.
Smileys: Billy Porter
Frowneys: Directing, Tiffany Haddish, screenplay, humour
A film about make-up and I can’t point even that out as a positive.